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grievous offence if any one comes near them better mounted, and they are in a tremor lest the neighing and snorting and prancing should be contagious.

Surely, however, ridicule implies contempt: and so the feeling must be condemnable, subversive of gentleness, incompatible with kindness?

Not vecessarily so, or universally; far from it. The word ridicule, it is true, has a narrow, one-sided meaning. From our proneness to mix up personal feelings with those which are more purely objective and intellectual, we have in great measure restricted the meaning of ridicule, which would properly extend over the whole region of the ridiculous, the laughable, where we may disport ourselves innocently, without any evil emotion; and we have narrowed it, so that in common usage it mostly corresponds to derision, which does indeed involve personal and offensive feelings. As the great business of wisdom in her speculative office is to detect and reveal the hidden harmonies of things, those harmonies which are the sources and the ever-flowing emanations of Law, the dealings of Wit, on the other hand, are with incongruities. And it is the perception of incongruity, flashing upon us, when unaccompanied, as Aristotle observes (Poet. c. v.), by pain, or by any predominant moral disgust, that provokes laughter, and excites the feeling of the ridiculous. But it no more follows that the perception of such an incongruity must breed or foster haughtiness or disdain, than that the perception of any thing else that may be erroneous or wrong should do so. You might as well argue, that a man must be proud and scornful because he sees that there is such a thing as sin, or such a thing as folly in the world. Yet, unless we blind our eyes, and gag our cars, and hood-wink our minds, we shall seldom pass through a day without having some form of evil brought in one way or other before us. Besides, the perception of incongruity may exist, and may awaken laughter, without the slightest reprobation of the object laughed at. We laugh at a pun, surely without a shade of contempt either for the words punned upon or for the punster ; and if a very bad pun be the next best thing to a very good one, this is not from its flattering any feeling of superiority in us, but because the incongruity is broader and more glaring. Nor, when we laugh at a droll combination of imagery, do we feel any contempt, but often admiration at the ingenuity shown in it, and an almost affectionate thankfulness toward the person by whom we have been amused, such as is rarely excited by any other display of intellectual power, as those who have ever enjoyed the delight of Professor Sedgwick's society will bear witness.

It is true, an exclusive attention to the ridiculous side of things is hurtful to the character, and destructive of earnestness and gravity. But no less mischievous is it to fix our attention exclusively, or even mainly, on the vices and other follies of mankind. Such contemplations, unless counteracted by wholesomer thoughts, harden or rot the heart, deaden the moral principle, and make us hopeless and reckless. The objects toward which we should turn our minds habitually are those which are great, and good, and pure ; the throne of virtue, and she who sits upon it; the majesty of truth, the beauty of holiness. This is the spiritual sky through which we should strive to mount, " springing from crystal step to crystal step," and bathing our souls in its living, life-giving ether. These are the thoughts by which we should whet and polish our swords for the warfare against evil, that the vapours of the earth may not rust them. But in a warfare against evil, under one or other of its forms, we are all of us called to engage : and it is a childish dream to fancy that we can walk about among mankind without perpetual necessity of remarking that the world is full of many worse incongruities besides those which make us laugh.

Nor do I deny that a laugher may often be a scoffer and a scorper. Some jesters are fools of a worse breed than those who used to wear the cap. Sneering is commonly found along with a bitter splenetic misanthropy; or it may be a man's sem hallewir haart, venting itself in mockery at others. Cruelty will

wellinte its atrocities by derision. The hyæna grins in its den ; most thai porer. But though a certain kind of wit, like other intellectual

is, with moral dopravity, there has often been a playfulness in the mana men-in Phocion, in Socrates, in Luther, in Sir Thomas More

i mare, adds a bloom to the severer graces of their character, shining forth

senthine brightness when storms assail them, and springing up in fresh www wider the axe of the executioner. How much is our affection for Hector

exi boy his tossing his boy in his arms, and langhing at his childish fears! w the language of love : they betoken the complacency and delight of the Arts in the object of its contemplation Why are we to assume that there must was the bitterness or contempt in them, when they enforce a truth or reprove an mapest ? On the contrary, some of those who have been richest in wit and humour hieve beon among the simplest and kindest-hearted of men. I will only instance Faller, Bishop Earle, Lafontaine, Matthes Claudius, Charles Lamh "Le méchant n'est jamais comique,” is wisely remarked by De Maistre, when canvassing the prekonsions of Voltaire (Soiréca, i 973); and the converse is equally trae : le comique, de morar comique, n'est jamais méchant. A langh, to be jopous, must fow from a joyous heart ; but without kindness there can be no true jor. And what a dall, plodding

, tramping clanking would the ordinary intercourse of society be, without wit to enliven and brighten it! When two men meet, they seem to be kept at bay through the estranging effects of absence, until some sportive sally opens their hearts to each other. Nor does any thing spread cheerfulness so rapidly over a wbole party, or an assembly of people, however large Reason expands the soul of the philosopher ; imagination glorifies the poet, and breathes a breath of spring through the young and genial; but if we take into account the numberless glances and gleams whereby wit lightens our every-day life, I hardly know what power ministers so bountifully to the innocent pleasures of mankind

Burely, too, it cannot be requisite, to a man's being in earnest, that he should wear a perpetual frowd. Or is there less of sincerity in Nature during her gambols in spring, than during the stiffness and harshness of her wintry gloom? Does not the Pind's blythe caroling come from the heart quite as much as the quadruped's monMonous cry? And is it then altogether impossible to take up one's abode with Truth, and to let all sweet homely feelings grow about it and cluster around it, and to sinile upon it as on a kind father or mother, and to sport with it, and hold light And merry talk with it, as with a loved brother or sister ; and to fondle it, and play with it, as with a child! No otherwise did Socrates and Plato commune with Truth; Hy otherwise Cervantes and Shakspere. This playfulness of Truth is beautifully toprented by Landor, in the conversation between Marcus Cicero and his brother

, ww ws allegory which has the voice and the spirit of Plato. On the other hand, the wulans of those who exclaim against every sound more lively than a bray or a bleat

, ** variatory to truth, are often prompted, not so much by their deep feeling of the inity of the truth in question, as of the dignity of the person by whom that truth w maintained. It is our vanity, our self-conceit, that makes us so sore and irritable. Tu yaxe argument we may reply gravely, and fancy that we have the best of it; w when is too dull or too angry to smile, cannot answer a smile, except by fretting and tuning Olivia lets us into the secret of Malvolio's distaste for the Clown. For the full expansion of the intellect, moreover, to preserve it from that narroir

w postimi warp which our proneness to give ourselves up to the sway of the Wt won to produce, its various faculties, however opposite, should grow and but up side by side-should twine their arms together, and strengthen each by we wrestles. Thus will it be best fitted for discerning and acting upon

the multiplicity of things which the world sets before it. Thus, too, will something like a balance and order be upheld, and our minds be preserved from that exaggeration on the one side, and depreciation on the other side, which are the sure results of exclusiveness. A poet, for instance, should have much of the philosopher in him ; not, indeed, thrusting itself forward at the surface--this would only make a monster of his work, like the Siamese twins, neither one thing nor two—but latent within : the spindle should be out of sight, but the web should be spun. by the Fates. A philosopher, on the other hand, should have much of the poet in him. A historian cannot be great without combining the elements of the two minds. A statesman ought to unite those of all the three. A great religious teacher, such as Socrates, Bernard, Luther, Schleiermacher, needs the statesman's practical power of dealing with men and things, as well as the historian's insight into their growth and purpose. He needs the philosopher's ideas, impregnated and impersonated by the imaginations of the poet. In like manner our graver faculties and thoughts are much chastened and bettered by a blending and interfusion of the lighter, so that “the sable cloud" may turn her silver lining on the night ;" while our lighter thoughts require the graver to substantiate them and keep them from evaporating. Thus Socrates is said, in Plato's Banquet, to have maintained that a great tragic poet ought likewise to be a great comic poet : an observation the more remarkable, because the tendency of the Greek mind, as at once manifested in their Polytheism, and fostered by it, was to insulate all its ideas; and as it were, to split up the intellectual world into a cluster of Cyclades ; whereas the appetite of union and fusion, often leading to confusion, is the characteristic of modern times. The combination, however, was realised in himself, and in his great pupil ; and may, perhaps, have been so to a certain extent in Æschylus, if we may judge from the fame of his satyric dramas. At all events the assertion, as has been remarked more than once,—for instance by Coleridge (Remains, ii., 12),—is a wonderful prophetical intuition, which has received its fulfilment in Shakspere. No heart would have been strong enough to hold the woe of Lear and Othello, cxcept that which had the unquenchable elasticity of Falstaff and the ‘Midsummer Night's Dream.' He, too, is an example that the perception of the ridiculous does not necessarily imply bitterness and scorn. Along with his intense humour, and his equally intense piercing insight into the darkest most fearful depths of human nature, there is still a spirit of universal kindness, as well as universal justice, pervading his works; and Ben Jonson has left us a precious memorial of him, where he calls him “My gentle Shakspere.” This one epithet sheds a beautiful light on his character: its truth is attested by his wisdom, which ould never have perfect unless it had been harmonised by the gentleness of the dove. A similar union of the graver and lighter powers is found in several of Shakspere's contemporaries, and in many others among the greatest poets of the modern world ; in Boccaccio, in Cervantes, in Chaucer, in Göthe, in Tieck; so was it ip Walter Scott.

SO

213.—THE PAGE'S SCENES IN PHILASTER.

BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. (The Page’s Scenes in • Philaster' have been held unsurpassed in tender delicacy. It is difficult to quote a scene or scenes from Beaumont and Fletcher, without being offended by some inherent grossness, which is here happily wanting. The date of the first play of these dramatists is 1607. Francis Beaumont was born in 1586, and died in 1015. John Fletcher was born in 1576, and died in 1625.)

The story of Philaster' is that of a rightful heir to a throne falling in love with the danghter of the usurper. Their affection is disturbed by jealousies excited by a designing woman, and encouraged by the tyrannical king, but the lovers are finally happy and triumphanto

The Page is a lady in disguise, in love with Philaster. Charles Lamb says, “For many years
after the date of Philaster's first exhibition on the stage, scarce a play can be found without
one of these women pages in it, following in the train of some pre-engaged lover, calling on
the gods to bless her happy rival."
Philaster tells the princess Arethusa how his page became known to him ;-

Philaster. I have a boy sent by the gods,
Not yet seen in the court; hunting the buck,
I found him sitting by a fountain-side,
Of which he borrow'd some to quench his thirst,
And paid the nymph again as much in tears;
A garland lay him by, made by himself,
Of many several flowers, bred in the bay,
Stuck in that mystic order, that the rareness
Delighted me: but ever when he turu'd
His tender eyes upon them, he would weep,
As if he meant to make them grow again.
Seeing such pretty helpless innocence
Dwell in his face, I ask'd him all his story;
He told me that his parents gentle died,
Leaving him to the mercy of the fields,
Which

gave

him roots; and of the crystal springs,
Which did not stop their courses; and the sun,
Which still, he thank'd him, yielded him his light.
Then took he up his garland and did show,
What every flower, as country people hold,
Did signify; and how all, order'd thus,
Expressed his grief: and to my thoughts did read
The prettiest lecture of his country art
That could be wished; so that, methought, I could
Have studied it. I gladly entertain'd him,
Who was as glad to follow; and have got
The trustiest, loving'st, and the gentlest boy,

That ever master kept. Bellario, the page, is told by Philaster that he has preferred him to the service of the princess :

Phi. And thou shalt find her honourable, boy ;
Full of regard unto thy tender youth,
For thine own modesty; and, for my sake,
Apter to give than thou wilt bé to ask, ay, or deserve.

Bellario. Sir, you did take me up when I was nothing,
And only yet am something by being yours ;
You trusted me unknown; and that which you are apu
To construe a simple innocence in me,
Perhaps might have been craft, the cunning of a boy
Harden'd in lies and theft; yet ventured you
To part my miseries and me: for which
I never can expect to serve a lady
That bears more honour in her breast than you.

Phi. But, boy, it will prefer thee; thou art young,
And bear'st a childish overflowing love
To them that clap thy cheeks and speak thee fair yet.
But when thy judgment comes to rule those passions

Thou wilt remember best those careful friend
That placed thee in the noblest way of life:
She is a princess I prefer thee to.

Bell. In that small time that I have seen the world,
I never knew a man hasty to part
With a servant he thought trusty; I remember,
My father would prefer the boys he kept
To greater men than he, but did it not
Till they were grown too saucy for himself.

Phi. Why, gentle boy, I find no fault at all
In thy behaviour.

Bell. Sir, if I have made
A fault of ignorance, instruct my youth;
I shall be willing, if not apt, to learn.
Age and experience will adorn my mind
With larger knowledge; and if I have done
A wilful fault, think me not past all hope
For once; what master holds so strict a hand
Over his boy, that he will part with him
Without one warning? Let me be corrected
To break my stubbornness if it be so,
Rather than turn me off, and I shall mend.

Phi. Thy love doth plead so prettily to stay,
That (trust me) I could weep to part with thee.
Alas, I do not turn thee off; thou knowest
It is my business that doth call thee hence ;
And when thou art with her thou dwell'st with me :
Think so, and 'tis so; and when time is full,
That thou hast well discharged this heavy trust
Laid on so weak a one, I will again
With joy receive thee; as I live, I will ;
Nay, weep not, gentle boy ; 'tis more than time
Thou didst attend the princess.

Bell. I am gone;
But since I am to part with you, my lord,
And none knows whether I shall live to do
More service for you, take this little prayer ;
Heaven bless your loves, your fights, all your designs.
May sick men, if they have your wish, be well;
And Heaven hate those you curse, though I be one.

[Exit.
Phi. The love of boys unto their lords is strange :
I have read wonders of it: yet this boy,
For my sake (if a man may judge by looks
And speech), would outdo story. I may see

A day to pay him for his loyalty. There is also a fine scene in which Philaster, who has become jealous of Bellario, dis. charges him. At length the page throws off her disguise, and confesses the motive of her conduct:

My father would oft speak
Your worth and virtue, and as I did grow
More and more apprehensive, I did thirst
To see the man so praised, but yet all this

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